The study of conflict resolution is an ancient subject, and it is studied in many disciplines like business studies, communication science, law, psychology, etc. Because of this multidisciplinary facet, it is difficult to identify its history in social psychology. Conflict resolution is critical because conflict can be either beneficial or dangerous. Conflict in the workplace takes up valuable time, while household conflict can damage children’s development. A dispute in territorial boundaries can be positive if managed constructively, but the negative outcome may dominate if not correctly handled; thus, the need arises for conflict resolution strategies widely.
Conflict Management Strategies
Emotions and motives play a vital role in conflict management and thus have received much attention for conflict management. It is also safe to say that conflict management strategy related to emotions and motives is best studied and understood in conflict literature. Conflicts can be said to be natural when people with different mindsets work together.
On the other hand, fierce conflict can cause mass harm such as war. Thus the need for conflict resolution strategies arises. There are various theories and techniques put forward in ancient times; the best example is matrimonial alliances with other kingdoms in ancient history. Some strategies that are widely used are third party intervention in a conflict. The third party acts as a judge and decides for the parties in conflict; in this case, the third party should not be partial.
Dual concern theory is another theory that deals with when and when the unilateral decision has been made. Jeffrey Rubin and Dean Pruitt give this model, which shows that when an individual has high aspirations, they force their power and extract their demands from the opponent at any cost. Interaction pattern also plays an essential role in causing a conflict or resolving it. The way any party interacts with the other is significant. For example, if the party starts the interaction with concession, it has to be taken into account that the settlement may increase or decrease.
The Thomas Kilmann Model
The Thomas Kilmann model is a conflict resolution strategy that gives us five conflict resolution strategies to manage a dispute. According to the model, a person choosing to engage in conflict has either a cooperative or assertive system. In cooperativeness, action involves satisfying others’ needs, while assertiveness involves activity to meet their own needs. Each conflict resolution strategy involves different levels of assertiveness and cooperativeness. The five approaches are avoiding, accommodating, competing, compromising and collaborating.
- Avoiding is an ignorant strategy where the person avoids the conflict, hoping it will resolve independently without any involvement. This strategy is mainly followed when the person has no gain or interest from the conflict. Avoiding a conflict is both unassertive and uncooperative.
- Accommodation is another strategy when an individual resolves the conflict by satisfying the demands of the opposite party at the expense of their desire or loss. Accommodating can be said to be an approach where acceptance and cooperativeness are involved.
- Competing is a strategy generally followed for self-gain at the cost of others involvement. Competing is the opposite of accommodation strategy and is very assertive depending on one’s concerns.
- Collaborating is a beneficial strategy that gives positive outcomes for both parties in conflict. Collaborating is working alongside the opposition to find a solution that perfectly aligns the interest of both parties. With more than one opposition, collaborating may not resolve the conflict if any of the parties do not have creative answers for impersonal issues.
- The last strategy of the Thomas Kilmann model, which falls between assertive and cooperative behaviour, is compromising. The critical role here is to find a mutually acceptable path where both parties will have some gain and some loss. Compromising is a middle ground solution that looks for concessions.
The Thomas Kilmann model discusses the five required methods as conflict resolution strategies. As every individual has a different mindset, conflict is not something that can be avoided but can be resolved using other models proposed by various psychologists.
Selecting the Right Strategy for Conflict Resolution
Selecting a correct approach depends on several factors such as the impact of the result if the outcome is not according to one’s expectations, or if there is a conflict whose result is not long-lasting. Still, if the same conflict affects multiple people and their interests, then a different approach should be considered. No theory can assist anyone with the correct method for conflict resolution strategies; the situation and the cross-cultural references play an essential role in any resolution method. Other factors that may help include listening effectively to problems, expressing needs clearly, identifying specific points for disagreement, focusing on particular issues, etc., to resolve the conflict faster and in an effective way. With every new conflict, new approaches should be used for an effective solution.
Any conflicts can be avoided with strategies if the parties are willing to do so. There may not be an expected outcome, but heavy losses can be avoided. Multiple theories assist in how we can resolve conflicts at various levels; they can be avoided, faced to reach a mutual understanding or even force the opponent into a resolution with the use of power and status. When a conflict is resolved, most parties collaborate to find a suitable solution that works for them. Understanding cross-cultural references is a